The pursuit of knowledge is one of the noblest and most admirable journeys a person can attempt. Indeed, this is one of the founding principles of most colleges and universities around the world. Unfortunately, though, the discoveries made by college students and employees are often complicated by disputes over who owns their ideas. This is especially true when money is on the line. If you're the subject of an intellectual property violation dispute with your school, it's important to arm yourself with as much information on the subject as possible.
Why Intellectual Property Matters
Intellectual property law aims to strike a balance between the creator's interests and the public's right to access and use their creations. As the academic output of faculty has become more commercially valuable, though, institutions have pushed for ownership. The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 allowed universities and colleges to own the intellectual property created by faculty and staff under federal research grants. This allows institutions to reap significant profits from state-supported research of commercially valuable inventions. Corporations have significantly increased their sponsored research at higher education institutions ever since. While the arrangement is certainly profitable for colleges and corporations, the labor and ingenuity of college employees are often forgotten in the shuffle.
In many cases, those employed by a university do not own their original academic work. Schools own intellectual property made by their employees in the scope and course of their work. When university resources or facilities are used, the school owns the resulting intellectual property. Feeling uncertain about who owns IP? The following questions can help clarify ownership:
- Were you creating while employed at a school, college, or university?